Potato harvest progress up on past two years

The potato harvest continues to run ahead of the past two years, although progress remains slightly behind the five-year average.

According to the Potato Council, farmers cleared about 60,000ha of GB potatoes by 27 September – 15,000ha more than last year and 17,000ha ahead of 2012. Yields were generally above average, meaning supplies were likely to be ample for 2014-15, said the report.

New season values had followed the typical season decline as harvest progressed, with the free-buy average dropping below £100/t in six of the past nine weeks – similar to the 2011 season.

In the week to 26 September, the Potato Council’s weekly average price fell to £118.54/t ex-farm, with the free-buy average at £90.76/t.

“Retail volume and value data has shown continued sales growth for frozen potato products in the latest 12-week period. However, over the same period, sales by value for fresh potatoes have fallen 15% and volume 2%,” said the report.

“Most packers have continued to rely on contracted or committed lots and free-buy demand has generally been slow.

“Bag market demand has also been slow, although following the re-opening of factories there was good processing trade – headed by contracted and supplemented by adequate free-buy for a generally limited demand.”

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